Thursday, December 30, 2010

Progress is slow...

...despite Greg's help.

Forty-two inches is just slighty more than double the length of our 20" chainsaws, making it very tricky to make the cuts line up in the middle.

That's what I call precision

Just dropped the second oak. This one was 3.5 FEET in diameter at the base and also about 75 FEET tall. Notice that I dropped it precisely between the two fence posts. ;)

This was the tree that had to come down. About 90% dead, it had been shedding widow-makers in storms for years, but dropping just it would have meant it would have gotten hung up in last week's tree.

This wood will burn much better than last week's tree as well. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The rink is open for skating...

...please call ahead for reservations.

In order to make up for not having a skating rink for the past two years, this year's rink is twice as big at 30' by 40'.  With any luck, Google will update their satellite imagery this winter/spring and I will have left a mark visible from space on the Earth.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Only one casualty so far...

While I have taken the last two weeks in December as vacation, ostensibly this is a working vacation, primarily focused on processing firewood.

Earlier in the week I dropped one oak tree with a diameter of about 3" at the base and about 75" tall. That is a story all its own. Verizon owns an easement through our property on which they run a phone line. For years we have asked them to come drop a few trees that threatened their lines and their only response has been "if it takes down the line, then we'll come repair it".  So I dropped the tree this week. I thought there was a small chance it would miss, but I was wrong.  The top branches just brushed it and the line was yanked off one of the poles and now sits about 1" off the ground. Supposedly Verizon will come out and rehang it, but they've missed one appointment already, so we'll see how that goes.

Anyway, after Santa presents were opened this morning and a lazy morning was enjoyed by all, I spent the afternoon splitting the wood harvested so far from the aforementioned tree.  Since I have my log splitter raised up on car ramps for general splitting this winter, I decided to just split the 3" sections into 8ths and then finish them on the log splitter.

Unfortunately, I missed on one swing and shattered the handle of the sledgehammer. I may be mistaken, but I do believe that my dad gave me that sledgehammer, and I have many fond memories of using it to flatten aluminum cans in my youth. No worries though; I will replace the handle and it keep on serving me. The Magners was not responsible for the miss; I waited until after all sledgehammer work was done before cracking open the first one.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Played hooky today...

We called Emma in sick today and took her, Deidre, Mitchell and Bob Macaraeg and his daughter to Okemo for a quick daytrip skiing. Despite sub-freezing temps, gale force winds and near whiteout conditions, everyone had a fantastic time and we are all looking forward to the next trip.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Company Holiday Party

Tonight, Fiona and I attended the annual company holiday party. The auction was a great success; raising over $40,000 for local charities. Rich Yannacco (pictured) was, as usual, the quintessential auctioneer. We successfully bid on a week's rental of a condo in NH that sleeps 10. Many friendships were renewed and a jolly time was had by all.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

A wonderful Turkeyday was had by all. We are especially glad that Dad was up for spending several hours here.  All-in-all this was a special Thanksgiving spent with the all of the local family.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


No, I'm not trying to channel Alan Moore, but I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about the influence of one's parents. Today was special in that I was out replacing the roof of the horses' lean-to on my "honey-do" vacation, but today was certainly not unique.

Throughout the spring and summer I've consciously noted the pleasure and satisfaction that derives from having a reasonably organized toolshop, and the utility that having that delivers. My wife requests that I tackle a minor home repair job, and I'm able to quickly accomplish it.

Some of my favorite memories stem from working with my father in his shop. One of the centerpieces of that shop was the pegboard "wall" that he had made to hold the majority of his hand tools. Knowing from first hand knowledge that such a wall existed was always a mental barrier to me when Fiona asked me to complete some fairly trivial household tasks, simply because I didn't have access to it.

However, this year saw me taking over about half of the floorspace of the barn for my "Mantown" and one of the first things I built was my own pegboard "wall".  Since then my response time on household repairs has diminished dramatically, and I'm quite a bit more content than I've been in years.

Life is good.

An Unexpected Visitor

One of the "Honey-Do" items is to replace the corrugated roof on the horses' lean-to. Halfway through removing the rotted part of the plywood underlayment, I discovered an abandoned home. Considering that it's 20 feet up and right up against the ceiling, it's going to be very difficult to verify if the previous tenants will re-occupy the dwelling, but I'm going to assume that they will.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


It was too cute to not take a picture of it. Deidre fell asleep with the cat asleep in her arms.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tough Guys Wear Pink

Emma made this t-shirt for me after I refused to wear a cantelope-colored shirt that Fiona had bought for me. Pink is fine. Cantelope is not. Am I right, or am I right guys?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Latest Home Improvement

Fiona is very pleased with how the new kitchen floor turned out. So am I. Be sure to take your shoes off at the door.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I love living in the future...

Yesterday was the last day of a co-worker and so a group of us took him out for drinks after work. When we finally called it a night, a quick check of the MBTA's website told me that my next train wasn't for another hour and forty minutes.  Can it get any worse than being stuck in North Station for over an hour while waiting for a train?

However, I'm living in the future, right?  While waiting for the Orange line at Back Bay, I pull up on my phone, find a new ebook for $0.00, "purchase" it, and by the time I've settled in to a rather hideously uncomfortable bench at North Station, "Bright of the Sky" by Kay Kenyon has been downloaded to my phone and I can lose myself in a surprisingly good sci-fi story about quantum computer based AIs and dimension traveling across branes.

However, I'm still ticked about the pundits in the 70's being wrong about the future. Where's my flying car so I don't have be waiting in the rain for my morning train to work?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Huge photo update

With much demand from all members of the family, I have finally uploaded all the pictures that have been languishing on my home computer's hard drive for most of the year. Use the [Picture Gallery] link in the left-hand sidebar at Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thanksgiving beta

Fiona cooked an outstandingly delicious turkey dinner tonight. It was awesome.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My new favorite T-shirt

It's title?  The Binge.  I got it at

Beauty is fleeting (v2)

I was greeted by this all across the sky as I stepped off the train tonight. By the time I got the camera out to snap this pic, only half the sky was illuminated. Thirty seconds later, all color was gone from the clouds.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Our annual Halloween party yesterday went off without a hitch and all attending had a great time. Thank you to all who came and made it such a successful party. Emma's and Deidre's pumpkins are now standing watch over the back porch.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Deidre got "booed" tonight

Apparently there is a New England custom with which I am completely unfamiliar.  A classmate of Deidre's left a sign and bucket of candy on the doorstep, knocked on the door, and fled before it was answered. This is quaint custom that I will continue to fully support (especially if there are Snickers or Kit-Kats for me).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bucky Balls from Woot

This is my first "cool" creation. This is the most fascinating magnetic toy I've ever owned.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fun with Faces courtesy of Picasa

Boy, it's been a while since I've posted to here.

The latest version of Picasa came out recently, and one of the new features is to make "Face Movies" from the people identified by their facial recognition feature. So, of course, I made one for every member of the family.







Pretty neat stuff.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A modest comparison

I stumbled across a nifty little website today that allows one to create "word clouds". The size of the word represents its frequency of occurrence in the body of text analyzed for the word cloud. The article that brought this to my attention is here, and this is the graphic that they had in the article:

This is the "word cloud" for the most common words used by respondents to a Pew survey asking them to describe Congress. The survey was conducted just prior to passing the Health Care Reform bill.

I found this little web app pretty cool, so I went and played around with it a bit, and then was struck by inspiration. What would a wordcloud look like for the Health Care Reform bill?

Unfortunately, I couldn't copy the entire 2000+ pages of text from the PDF, so I copied the summary of the bill and used that to make the wordcloud. Note the prominence of "Secretary". About as prominent as "Commissar" back in the USSR, eh? The size of "Requires" is pretty scary too.

But then inspiration struck again. How would the wordcloud of this, the latest legislation from the United States, compare to our first piece of "legislation"?

That, my friends, is the wordcloud for The Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. Even with an Amendment dealing with specific limitations as to the Office of the President, the "States" are still more prominent than a single person, or even the two groups of legislators.

Perhaps our laws today should be written more like the Consitution than the recent Health Care Reform bill, focusing on the States, rather than specific people in the federal government.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My next hobby, apparently...

Fee's last Xmas gift for me arrived today. The last recipe book that she got me was titled, "A Man, A Can, A Microwave".  This seems like a fairly big leap to me, but I've been wanting to really get into exercising my 2nd Amendment Rights for a long time now.  If the economy picks up enough again soon, I may be able to acquire a fair hunting implement this year. This should be fun.

Sent from my G1...